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Politics

Biden says Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is on his list for vice president

Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has raised her profile tangling with President Trump over the federal government’s response to the coronavirus.
(Al Goldis / Associated Press)

Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has drawn attention for her scrapes with President Trump over the federal government’s coronavirus response, is on Joe Biden’s list of potential vice presidential candidates, Biden said in an interview Tuesday.

The former vice president made the remarks during an appearance on MSNBC, after host Brian Williams asked whether Whitmer had “lengthened” Biden’s shortlist due to her performance during the pandemic.

“She hadn’t lengthened the list — she made the list, in my mind, two months ago,” Biden said, adding that he expects to have a shortlist of six to 10 women to be vetted in April. Biden, who is the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said he plans to go through the exercise even if his opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont is still in the race.

“I feel confident about being the nominee, " Biden said. “I don’t see much to change that.”

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Whitmer, a former longtime Michigan state lawmaker who has endorsed Biden, is less than halfway through her first term as governor after winning office in 2018. Whitmer has criticized the federal government’s lack of planning and failure to react more quickly to the pandemic, drawing Trump’s ire.

“We’ve had a big problem with the young — a woman governor from — you know who I’m talking about — from Michigan,” Trump told Fox News personality Sean Hannity in an interview. “We can’t — we don’t like to see the complaints.”

Amid a pandemic that has drowned out every other topic, Joe Biden has struggled to attract and hold attention.
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“Now that I’ve got your attention, Mr. President — attack tweets won’t solve this crisis,” Whitmer, 48, said in a response after Trump criticized her on Twitter. “But swift and clear guidance, tests, personal protective equipment, and resources would.”

Trump won Michigan by a little over 10,000 votes in 2016, and 2018 midterm-cycle victories such as Whitmer’s have given Democrats hope that they can win back the upper Midwest with the right ticket.

Biden said during the most recent Democratic debate with Sanders this month that he would pick a woman to be his vice president should he win the nomination. That parameter would exclude several Democratic governors whose profiles have also risen for their handling of the coronavirus crisis, including Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gavin Newsom of California and Jay Inslee of Washington.

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Sanders stopped short of guaranteeing that his vice presidential pick would be a woman, though he said he was in favor of it.

Biden also said during his MSNBC interview that the Democratic National Convention “may have to be different” to accommodate social-distancing concerns because of the coronavirus, and he guessed there would be “a great deal more absentee balloting.”

Biden said election officials should be talking about alternative ways to hold elections, including “drive-in voting, literally.”

“There’s a lot of ways to do it,” Biden said, “but we should be talking about it now.”


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